CREATING CANCER NANOTECHNOLOGY PLATFORMS THROUGH DIRECTED RESEARCH 
PROGRAMS: REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI)

RELEASE DATE:  June 24, 2004

NOTICE:  NOT-CA-04-022

National Cancer Institute (NCI) 
 (http://www.nci.nih.gov)

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is interested in attracting ideas 
for directed research programs that will ultimately deploy 
nanotechnology platforms for the diagnosis or treatment of cancer. The 
goals of such programs are twofold: to increase the visibility and 
availability of nanomaterials and nanoscale devices within the cancer 
research community and to catalyze those targeted discovery and 
development efforts that offer the greatest opportunities for 
translation into the clinic. The NCI would like to identify 
opportunities, programs, and contracts for specified nanotechnology 
platforms in cancer research where nanotechnology can have the biggest 
and fastest impact, including molecular imaging and early detection, in 
vivo imaging, reporters of treatment efficacy, multifunctional 
therapeutics, cancer prevention and control, and research enablers. 
Areas for consideration may include, but are not limited to:

o Early imaging agents and diagnostics that will allow clinicians to 
detect cancer in its earliest, most easily treatable, presymptomatic 
stage;
o Systems that will provide real-time assessments of therapeutic and 
surgical efficacy for accelerating clinical translation;
o Multifunctional, targeted devices capable of bypassing biological 
barriers to deliver multiple therapeutic agents at high local 
concentrations, with physiologically appropriate timing, directly to 
cancer cells and those tissues in the microenvironment that play a 
critical role in the growth and metastasis of cancer;
o Agents capable of monitoring predictive molecular changes and 
preventing precancerous cells from becoming malignant;
o Novel methods for managing the symptoms of cancer that adversely 
impact quality of life; 
o New approaches to help understand the complex interactions between 
cellular molecules ultimately affecting their use as potential markers 
or targets; and
o Research tools that will enable investigators to quickly identify new 
targets for clinical development and the prediction of drug resistance.  

Although suggestions may focus on specific technology needs or on 
cancer biology problems, they must incorporate the application of 
nanotechnologies to address cancer-specific issues. 

NCI is aware of the growing interest and involvement of the academic 
community in the development of nanotechnology for the diagnosis and 
treatment of cancer. This RFI is commensurate with the NCI Cancer 
Nanotechnology Plan (see http://otir.cancer.gov), an integrated 
program of activities that uses nanotechnology to enable rapid clinical 
and basic research advances and to lower the barriers to technology 
development and commercialization by the private sector. It is expected 
that efforts that arise from the Cancer Nanotechnology Plan will 
generate products in clinical trials or clinical use within the next 5 
years. 

This RFI is for information and planning purposes only and should not 
be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the 
Government.  The Government does not intend to award a cooperative 
agreement on the basis of responses to this RFI nor otherwise pay for 
the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government’s 
use of such information.  

Background 

The NCI wishes to facilitate the use of nanotechnology to develop 
diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions for cancer. 
Nanotechnology offers a wide range of tools, from chip-based “nanolabs” 
that are capable of monitoring and manipulating individual cells to 
nanoscale probes that can track the movements of individual cells and 
molecules. Such tools will enable cancer biologists to study, monitor, 
and alter the multiple systems that define cancer processes as well as 
to identify the key biochemical and genetic focus points for the 
development of future molecular therapies. As such, nanotechnology can 
serve as the perfect complement to other technology platforms, such as 
proteomics and bioinformatics, that are critical components of the 
discovery and development engine that will power both near- and long-
term advances in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. More 
importantly, nanotechnology serves as a versatile development platform 
to rapidly translate biological insights into clinically useful 
products.  

Current clinical cancer-related nanotechnology research has 
demonstrated advances in laboratory-based diagnostics (e.g., nanowires, 
quantum dots, “lab-on-a-chip” applications), in vivo diagnostic imaging 
(e.g., contrast agents, implantable biosensors), and therapeutics 
(e.g., dendrimers, engineered virus particles, multifunctional 
nanodevices). These developments will provide insights into the 
understanding and measurement of numerous aspects of the tumor 
microenvironment, including the production of growth signals and the 
regulation of apoptosis, angiogenesis, replication, metastasis, and 
genomic instabilities. Nanotechnology encompasses a broad range of 
novel materials, strategies, and devices, and the intent of this RFI is 
to benefit basic biological research and preclinical research by 
increasing the variety of available nanotechnologies for cancer and to 
catalyze their development and commercialization by the public or 
private sector.    

The NCI Cancer Nanotechnology Plan is designed to empower multi-
disciplinary academic teams to discover and develop nanotechnologies 
that can be used in basic biological and biomedical studies and 
clinical trials. The sharing of information on nanomaterials and 
nanodevices supported by the NCI Cancer Nanotechnology Plan will be 
promoted through links with public databases available through the 
Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (CaBIG). This paradigm promises to 
facilitate the understanding of how nanomaterials and nanodevices 
interact with biological systems and to shorten the timeline for drug 
development, with resulting benefits to individual patients and to 
public health.

The NCI will use input received in response to this RFI to develop 
concepts for individual Requests for Applications (RFAs) and Requests 
for Proposals (RFPs) that focus on directed research programs for 
specific nanotechnology platforms in cancer. The NCI plans to issue the 
resulting RFAs in the fall of 2004.  The NCI will also fund 3-year 
nanotechnology projects through a contract mechanism overseen by 
project specialists. This initiative will target Cancer Centers, small 
businesses, and Federal laboratories that can support technology 
programs to create platforms that are aimed at deployment of 
nanotechnologies for clinical application in cancer research. 
Applicants will be required to team with NCI Cancer Centers, 
Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs), or other NCI-
funded technology development programs with a plan to disseminate the 
technologies thus developed.   

Information Requested

Information in the following areas will aid the NCI in the design of 
the announcements for cancer nanotechnology research platforms.  We ask 
that interested organizations identify critical criteria that should be 
included in the announcements and to describe their interests as well 
as their current and potential capabilities to meet these criteria.  
Information presented need not be limited to these areas.  Please limit 
your responses to 10 pages or fewer.

1. Capabilities for Nanotechnology Development and Testing (note: 
Respondents should address those areas that are applicable)

a. Describe your capabilities, or means of acquiring the capabilities, 
to fabricate, synthesize, and test nanomaterials.  Materials that you 
have developed may be listed, as well as the technical capabilities of 
personnel and the capacity available in your organization.

b. Describe your capabilities to engage multidisciplinary research 
teams to address cancer nanotechnology issues (e.g., affiliations with 
university or research centers of engineering or physical sciences, 
well-developed modules for integrative training in key areas relevant 
to the enterprise [such as biomaterials and clinical applications of 
nanotechnology], and relevant private technology development 
partnerships). 

c. Describe your laboratory information management system (LIMS) and 
your capabilities for data analysis and biocomputing.

d. Describe your technology assessment capabilities to identify and 
bring in new nanomaterials and nanotechnologies for cancer research.

e. Describe the criteria by which you would judge the usefulness of a 
nanotechnology research platform for cancer, and how you think that a 
center should prioritize and coordinate its resources.

2.  Equipment/Techniques

a.  Describe your current facilities and equipment, or plans to acquire 
the appropriate infrastructure support, and discuss the range of 
techniques and technologies available in your organization (e.g., 
animal models, small animal in vivo imaging, materials synthesis and 
fabrication facilities).

3.  Capacity

a. Describe the highest level of throughput likely to be obtainable by 
your organization and discuss the timeline, staff, and equipment 
additions you believe would be necessary to reach this level. 

4. Personnel

a. Describe the personnel who would be required to carry out a directed 
research program in a specific nanotechnology platform relevant to your 
organization.  Include an estimate for the level of effort of each.

Responses

Responses should be identified with the Notice No. (NOT-CA-04-022) and 
are due by August 2, 2004.  Please submit three (3) copies of your 
response to Gregory J. Downing, D.O., Ph.D.; Director, Office of 
Technology and Industrial Relations, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 
Building 31, Room 10A-52, MSC 2580, 31 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 
20892-2580. Email responses will also be accepted at 
downingg@mail.nih.gov.

For further information on this or other NCI nanotechnology 
initiatives, please see http://otir.cancer.gov or contact the 
Office of Technology and Industrial Relations at the address above.  

Acknowledgment of receipt of responses will not be made, nor will 
respondents be notified of the Government’s assessment of the 
information received. However, should such an announcement materialize, 
no basis for claims against the Government shall arise as a result of a 
response to this request for information or the Government’s use of 
such information as either part of our evaluation process or in 
developing specifications for any subsequent announcement.  Responses 
will be held in a confidential manner.  Any proprietary information
should be so marked.


Return to Volume Index

Return to NIH Guide Main Index


Office of Extramural Research (OER) - Home Page Office of Extramural
Research (OER)
  National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Home Page National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Home Page Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS)
  USA.gov - Government Made Easy


Note: For help accessing PDF, RTF, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Audio or Video files, see Help Downloading Files.